Thousands back petition to keep guards on all Northern trains

Members of the RMT on a picket line at Blackpool North
Members of the RMT on a picket line at Blackpool North

More than 11,000 people have signed an online petition calling on train operator Northern Rail to scrap plans for driver only operations (DOO).

On Monday staff from the Rail Maritime and Transport Workers Union staged a 24 hour walkout over proposals to switch half of all services operated by the company to the new system over the next decade.

The RMT claims passenger safety will be compromised by the removal of guards, despite assurances from Northern a second staff member is likely to work on most trains.

Union bosses fear the introduction of DOO will mean the downgrading of the conductor to a ticket vendor, and in some cases there might not even be a ticket vendor on board.

It insists a second safety-trained crew member will always be safer than having only the one.

The switch to driver only operation was part of a franchise agreement between German-owned Arriva, which operates the franchise, and the Department for Transport.

Northern operated fewer than half of its normal Monday timetable during the strike action.

The RMT has called for ‘meaningful talks’ with the operator and further industrial action has not been ruled out.

A similar dispute at Southern Railway has been raging for nearly a year with members of the RMT and drivers from ASLEF striking.

The Government must respond to any petition on the parliament website which attracts more than 10,000 signatures .